Featuring a very unique mixture of elements, today we have Æra and their debut EP titled “Of Forsworn Vows”. Combining elements from 90’s Black Metal with more modern Pagan Metal elements, this release unleashes over 20 minutes of highly addictive music that is quite epic and engaging. For fans of bands like Borknagar and early Emperor to outfits like Thyrfing, this release will certainly fit very well on your collection.
Opening with the powerful atmospheric elements of “An Affirmation of Forsworn Vows”, the band makes a bit splash with tense keyboards and a very melodic core. The riffing reminds us of bands like Falkenbach, which is straightforward but very melodic in nature. The vocals are quite fitting and add that extra layer of power to this impressive song as it weaves back and forth between different tempos.
Delivering over 55 minutes of superbly catchy Black/Pagan/Viking Metal, today we have France’s Vindland and their debut full-length release “Hanter Savet”. With the current influx of brilliant French bands to the Metal scene, it is not surprising that this band is a good as they are. Perfectly capturing the essence of bands like Kampfar, Windir, Thyrfing, this band has managed to craft nine excellent songs that will have you headbanging from start to end.
Opening with some great intensity, “Orin Kozh” immediately sets the pace for quite a hectic and yet melodic release. The band perfectly weaves back and forth between full-on Metal sections and more subtle Folk-ish influences. The incisive riffing is exactly what makes this release quite melodic and enjoyable, similar to what one would expect from the genre. Tracks like “Treuzwelus”, “Serr-Noz” and “Pedenn Koll” really showcase how the band excels in writing cunning songs that are quite enjoyable and satisfying.
Hailing from the UK and arriving trough Eternal Death records, today we have a very entertaining 7” release from The Wolves of Avalon. Fronted by none other than Metatron of The Meads of Asphodel fame, this band plays a mean Pagan/Black Metal that invokes some similarities to the likes of Primordial. Featuring two songs, this release is quite entertaining and a must-have for die-hard collectors of vinyl.
Opening on side A with the “Die Hard” cover, the band perfectly captures the old-school Thrash/Black Metal sound of Venom. Adding the special participation of vocalists Rob Miller (Amebix), Alan Averill (Primordial), Mirai (Sigh), and Mantas doing some vocals and also handling some guitars, this cover is an excellent modern version of the original classic.
Germany’s Helrunar is by far the least imaginative and most straightforward band in the Lopus Lounge stable of great musical acts. However, there are some decent moments and redeeming qualities that make this band good enough for us to review them over countless others we receive every day. Featuring eight track and around 56 minutes of music, this album marks the band’s first full-length release in nearly four year.
The album’s opener, “Niederkunfft” nicely provides a window to the band’s musical approach and unluckily everything else will sound quite familiar. There are some nice chilling elements here and there like the creepy atmosphere and the closing of “Totentanz”, but the vanilla tracks like “Der Endkrist” leave a lot to be desired based on Prophecy productions/Lopus Lounge standards. Other pieces like the doomy “Devils, Devils Everywhere!” have nice riffs but some very silly passages that quickly reduce the listener’s desire to stay engaged in the music.
As one of the most polarizing bands in the world, Alestorm returns with their whacky pirate metal with “Sunset on the Golden Age”. Setting sails with 11 very odd tracks, the band continues to expand their sound with some new influences, and further refines their craft with more direct and enjoyable anthems of drinking, pillaging, and some more drinking. If you have always been a supporter of the band, you will notice how well they have evolved into an outfit that crafts very interesting songs that are quite technically proficient as well as engaging and catchy.
Instantly making an impact with the festive “Walk the Plank”, we have a traditional Heavy Metal-influenced song that features thunderous guitars and a chorus section that will make you raise your fist and start chanting. The album’s first stand-out single: “Drink,” is a superbly crafted catchy tune that will make you drink alcohol non-strop. Featuring several ‘wenches’ in the official video of the song, this is one hell of a party song that you don’t want to miss out on.
Going in the stack of ‘why the hell is this band not signed yet’ promos, today we have Belgiums Natan and their sophomore release “Às”. With over 45 minutes of a very unique blend of Pagan Metal, Black Metal, and tons of Avant-garde influences, this release is one of the few that immediately caught our attention and we have been listening to it non-stop. Having a bit of everything for everybody, this band has a truly unique style that is impressively well-crafted.
Opening with a bang, “Asch” immediately reminds us of Greece’s Aenaon and their very crafty music. The riffing is quite funky and the vocals very harsh, giving a very unique and somewhat progressive vibe to the music. The addition of the clean vocals really gives the band an extra dimension that your average band usually lacks. The intense “Ride Out!” gives us very cool tempo changes and powerful riffs constructed in a very unique and progressive way, reminding us of Enslaved at points.
Delivering their first album on their new label, Metal Blade Records, Faroese Metalheads Týr keep improving on their signature sound with “Valkyrja”. Featuring 13 tracks of super catchy Progressive Viking/Pagan Metal, the band shows no signs of resting in their laurels and manages to build on their legacy with a near perfect release that will captivate all fans of the band. For over 59 minutes, the listener will be treated to Týr’s signature riffing and the charismatic singing of Heri Joensen.
Opening with the strong “Blood Of Heroes” we get the traditional Týr riffing onslaught provided by Heri Joensen and Terji Skibenæs. With more epic vocal melodies and catchy arrangements, “Mare of My Night” comes out to be one of the standout tracks in this release thanks to that headbanging/chanting alongside vibe the song features. Things get more melancholic with the lush female vocals of guest Liv Kristine on “The Lay of Our Love”. In this track the band shows a different side to them, delivering a mellow track with excellent guitars and very tight drumming.
Arriving this June on Hypnotic Dirge Records and Misanthropic Art Productions we have Frigoris and their sophomore release “Wind”. Perfectly mixing acoustic guitars with melancholic Black Metal, the band creates a very powerful and emotional atmosphere around their songs. Hailing from Germany, this band is an ideal match for fans of bands like Agalloch, Fen, and Woods of Ypres, and older Empyrium.
Opening with the mysterious intro “Windgeflüster” that features some nice acoustic guitars and whispers, the band fully explodes with “Zwischenwelten”. This straightforward Pagan/Black Metal track is quite melancholic and perfectly crafted to create a special atmosphere. The BM harsh vocals are quite good, but what elevates this release is the creepy whisper/acoustic guitar combination that bands like Empyrium have used in the past.
Hailing from Russia, today we have one-man band/project Frozen Ocean presenting his 2012 full-length release titled “A Perfect Solitude”. Handling all the instruments and drum programming, Vaarwel manages to craft a very powerful and atmospheric release that showcases his excellent songwriting skills. Featuring seven tracks and nearly 45 minutes of chilling music, this release delivers a hefty amount of bleak soundscapes that will surely keep you on the edge of your seat.
The bleak intro “Broken Window” sets a very mysterious and moody atmosphere that is very unnerving in nature. As the raining sounds bleed into “Somewhere Clouds Debark”, the mood keeps being very eerie and ethereal. The powerful distorted guitars elevate this track while maintaining the chilling atmosphere created. The vocals are very interesting since they are quite lush and greatly enhance the atmosphere, reminding us a bit of bands like Falkenbach and Thyrfing.
Perfectly mixing aggression and melody, today we have Canada’s Catuvolcus and their amazing latest release “Gergovia”. In this exciting album the band perfectly blends elements of Pagan/Folk Metal with Black Metal and delivers nine tracks of pure melodic chaos. After setting a Folky mood with “Elaver”, the band quickly gets down to business with the crushing “Par monts et par vaux”.
Filled with extremely aggressive vocals and blasting guitar riffs, this release has no shortage of epic moments that are just too many to mention. The drumming keeps things running smoothly, but it’s the sense of melody the band has that keeps the songs being different and extremely good. A clear example of this is the very uplifting “Le colline de Chanturge” and its lush intro followed by waves of powerful riffs. Reminding us of bands like Mythotin and Himinbjorg, Catuvolcus is one of the most intense and skilled bands we have listened to in a while.